My Time at Cheetah Conservation Fund in Namibia

  • by Alyssa Evangelista April 17, 2023
My Time at Cheetah Conservation Fund in Namibia
Katya (Vanier Intern), Alyssa and Ester (Namibia Intern)

My Experience at CCF

I am ecstatic with how successful my internship was. Throughout my entire internship, I had an amazing experience, and I look forward to someday going back to CCF. The friendly and welcoming nature of the CCF staff and interns enhanced my experience and being able to work with wonderful people made working in teams great. Throughout this internship, I was able to put my technician skills to use, gather a wide range of biotic samples, and make sure that I was able to employ all of the skills and knowledge required to complete a task. Overall, it’s clear that my time spent as an intern was incredible. I had the opportunity to work with a wide variety of species and learn a lot about Namibia’s wildlife. I was able to realize that I really enjoy working in wildlife conservation and will continue to pursue it as a career.

Main Projects and Tasks Completed at CCF

Environmental and Wildlife Management is a course of study at Vanier College in Montréal, Québec that prepares students to work as environmental technicians. Since I’ve always been interested in wildlife conservation, I leaped at the opportunity to work as an ecological intern at the Cheetah Conservation Fund in Namibia.

I successfully completed a six-week internship with two other Vanier students, and I have to say it was an incredible experience. Despite the fact that I was an ecological intern, the cheetah department, the small stock department, which also includes the livestock guarding dogs, the veterinary department, and even tourism all needed my help. I helped with meat preparation and completed cheetah husbandry within the cheetah department. I additionally assisted in the livestock guarding dog department by walking, feeding, and cleaning pens for the Anatolian dogs. However, I frequently only assisted when it was necessary in the veterinary and tourism departments.

Even though I worked in several departments, I did spend the majority of my time in the ecology department. I frequently took part in maintaining trail cameras that were placed throughout the reserve or on farms. Additionally, I helped with both the monthly and seasonal game counts. The objective of these game counts is to record all mammal species observed in the reserve and on CCF farms. Furthermore, a study is currently being conducted at CCF, a project in which I took part, to determine whether the local biodiversity is being affected by bush encroachment.

The biodiversity project I was working on at the time only required me to sample six plots for birds, reptiles, and flying insects, namely butterflies and dragonflies. All of the species that were present in the plots were to be observed and recorded. All butterfly, dragonfly, and reptile species were sampled along transects, and all bird sampling took place at four different locations within our plot to ensure that the entire area was sampled.  In order to collect data on potential mammal species within the plots, trail cameras were also positioned within the plot. Whatever the task, everything I accomplished was essential to CCF’s mission of protecting the wild cheetah population.

The Importance of Cheetah Conservation

Even though I am a Canadian student traveling to another country and may not be familiar with all the fauna there, I am aware that each species present plays a vital part in the ecosystem. It is crucial to understand that, like all other living things on earth, cheetahs play a crucial part in the ecosystem.

If cheetahs were to become extinct this would cause a displacement within the ecosystem. This is due to the fact that cheetahs are predators and regulate the diversity of prey species in the environment. If cheetahs were absent, this would result in an influx of prey species. Due to the fact that many of their prey species are herbivores, this would subsequently cause problems with the vegetation.

As a result, it is crucial to protect the wild cheetah population because all species are dependent on one another. I also gained a greater knowledge of the conflict between humans and wildlife, which is another significant issue. My internship helped me to better grasp all the various aspects of conservation, and I think that Canadians should begin to recognize the significance of these animals to maintaining a healthy ecosystem.

Key Learning from my Internship at CCF

Upon the completion of my internship, many skills that were learned will be applied in the future. Although I obtained all of my knowledge from my program at Vanier College, my abilities were improved after I completed this internship, and I now feel qualified to contribute to environmental science. Fieldwork duties are definitely manageable for me, especially following this internship.

I’ve discovered that I definitely have the skills needed to plan and carry out any fieldwork, as well as the capability to use the appropriate field equipment. Additionally, my confidence in my ability to characterize, gather, monitor, and analyze biotic components of the environment and their interactions has grown since helping in CCF’s ecology department. I am very grateful for this experience, as it has helped me focus on the career path I want to take in the future and help me follow my interests in conservation.

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